Nissan test drives interactive CD-ROM to market X-Trail

Nissan Canada gave away thousands of CD-ROMs at last weekend’s Toronto Auto Show to market the high-tech features of its latest sport utility vehicle, the X-Trail, which will be available in May.

“”Just the fact that we’re handing out a

CD —— I mean, that communicates that we’re more technically adept, we’re more with it,”” said Paul Harlock, events and promotions manager of Nissan Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

Because the X-Trail will only be offered to the Canadian market and has no support from a U.S. campaign, “”We had to do something that was different than everybody else. We’re actually late to the market with this vehicle. It’s a small SUV.””

Moreover, Harlock said, the X-Trail has many internal features that can be better demonstrated via a CD than a “”two-dimensional, flat-medium”” brochure. For example, there are about 20 different seating configurations, a ski pass-through in the centre of the vehicle, heated and cooled cup holders and a cargo floor in the rear of the SUV that can be washed.

“”The dealers love it because it’s so dynamic and because you can pack so much information on to the CD-ROM. We just have to see if we can find some more money to do this new type of medium,”” Harlock said, adding a CD works well generating excitement about a new vehicle, especially for Nissan Canada’s technologically-savvy customers.

The CD will be distributed from now throughout the fall at auto shows and customer launch nights in Montreal and Vancouver, said Harlock. He’s unsure, however, about the number of car sales that will result from giving away 140,000 copies of the CD.

More than 100 of the 1,500 people who used the CD have asked to be kept apprised about the release date of the X-Trail, said Thomas Accardo, an e-business strategist at Toronto-based Adeo Communications Corp., the CD’s producer.

The X-Trail CD aims to build awareness of the SUV and stall consumers’ plans to purchase competitive vehicles, said Accardo. He said Canadians interested in the X-Trail can provide contact information enabling Nissan Canada to keep them in the loop until the SUV makes its debut.

The CD also allows viewers to control the information they want about the vehicle, including shots of the SUV, details about exterior colour or mini-movies about its capabilities, Accardo said.

Last year was the first occasion the car manufacturer used the interactive medium to promote a vehicle, another SUV called the Murano. That CD experienced a 46 per cent response rate and an average viewing time of 11 minutes, according to Adeo.

Seventy-six thousand Murano CDs, which were mailed directly to Nissan Canada owners and potential buyers, told a story showcasing the performance of the SUV in a variety of environments, explained Accardo.

“”We take you from your home to a golf course. Or we take you to a winery. Or we take you to the local hockey game. It’s sprinkled with unique selling features of the vehicle. So if you’re just going on a drive in the country, we might talk about the GPS system in the vehicle to show you that you’ve always got a map. If you go on an antique tour, we talk about how you can fold down the backseats and you’ve got plenty of room for whatever you might pick up.””

The CD succeeded in encouraging people to test-drive a Murano at a Nissan Canada dealership and resulted in “”a number of qualified leads,”” said Accardo.

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